The 2022 South African table grape season is set to produce a record volume of fruit with only a small portion of the crop left to pack.
Despite the record crop, it is doubtful that the returns from the markets will reflect the same success that growers achieved on their farms.
The ongoing effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on world trade–which have included disruption to seafreight and other logistical challenges–poor weather conditions, inflation, rising input costs and the Russia-Ukraine situation have made 2022 a challenging season for all growers.
“In spite of many challenges facing the industry, the table grape producers can be proud of their performance during the past season, which will probably be the largest export season up to date,” said South African table grape industry body SATI.
“The harvesting season for the Northern Provinces, Orange River, Olifants River and Berg River regions have now come to an end, and only the Hex River region is still handling grapes. The national intake volume until week 13 came to 76.5m cartons (4.5 kg equivalent), which is 5.5 per cent more than 2021 and 17.23 per cent more than 2020. In 2019 the industry packed 60.3m cartons – marking four years of growth in production.”
SATI said the Hex River region – the last region to be packed – has got off to a promising start. The production per hectare has exceeded expectations, and the quality of the grapes is excellent.
“Although there were several challenges do deal with towards the latter part of the season, including the (lack of) colouring of the Crimson Seedless and some rain, the Hex River region is still on track to achieve its high estimate of 24.3m cartons,” said SATI.
In fact, both the Orange River region and the Hex River Valley had their biggest ever export crops this season. The Orange River packed 22.3m cartons and the Hex River is likely to exceed the present 24.1m cartons.
According to SATI, nearly 65m cartons had been shipped by week 13 – leaving around 12m cartons still to be shipped. At this stage, it is not certain whether all these grapes will in fact be shipped allowing the official export volume to reach the 76m carton mark.
What is clear, is that it will still take some time before the industry can assess the season and the final picture of 2022 will take shape.